Upper Elementary (continued)
The Upper Elementary Curriculum
The educational approach to Upper Elementary is integrated and thematic. Studies of the physical universe, the world of nature, and the history of mankind are the catalyst for much of the learning that takes place in such areas as math, language, literature, art, music, history, science, geography, and foreign language. Through these studies, students are encouraged to pursue particular interests, while acquiring the necessary skills to think clearly, to apply that thinking to practical use, to communicate skillfully, and to work well with others. In all areas of the curriculum, group discussions become increasingly important, as do creative writing, research, and oral presentations.
Math for Upper Elementary students includes arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. The math curriculum meets or exceeds MA state standards. Each student is observed and skill levels are assessed to determine where the student should start in the curriculum. Students learn basic operations, math facts, fractions, decimals, word problems, geometry, measurement, pre-algebra, ratio and proportion, percents, graphing tables and charts, rounding and averaging. Students work collaboratively on projects improving their problem solving skills. This curriculum ensures that all students are challenged appropriately, while progressing toward higher mathematical thinking. Sixth Grade students travel to the Middle School weekly where they participate in a one hour lab experience with Middle School Science and Math teachers to further develop their math and science skills by actively engaging in inquiry based activities.
The Upper Elementary language curriculum fosters growth and development of receptive and expressive language. Choices of literature complement the study of history,cultures, or social skills. Comprehension, reading aloud, and group discussion skills are reinforced, and techniques for literary criticism are introduced. Essay writing is emphasized, as well as styles of writing, research and report writing, and creative writing. Sentence analysis and diagramming using manipulative grammar materials continues through the language curriculum. Progression in spelling capabilities continues with higher sophistication as does cursive writing and word processing. 6th years complete a year-long research project which culminates in a written report and presentation to the Oak Meadow community.
The Upper Elementary cultural curriculum includes the study of history, science, geography, the arts, and Spanish. The curriculum is designed to help students appreciate the impact of geography and technology upon the history of the human race. Interconnectedness is an underlying theme, as children explore man’s use of the earth’s natural resources and the development of trade. Students continue to build on their knowledge of land, water, and climate, and the effect each of these has on cultures. Children benefit from the experience of Oak Meadow’s multicultural community as they explore regional foods, dress, music, art, religion, and traditions.
The science curriculum is designed to familiarize students with some of the fundamental principles of scientific investigation, to strengthen their powers of observation and critical thinking, and to explore some of the basic concepts within the fields of biology, physical and chemical science, astronomy, and earth science. Many of the scientific principles are learned by the students through their own experiments with various liquids, solids, gases, prisms, magnets, electricity, gravity, pulleys, and balances.
Specialists instruct students in art, music, drama, Spanish, and physical
education. Specialist teachers work with classroom teachers to incorporate parts of the academic curriculum into their programs. The arts curriculum is designed to familiarize students with some of the great masters of art, music, and drama, and to encourage the students to recognize the arts as a creative means for expressing observations, feelings, imagination, and personal experiences. Students study the work of artists through slides, videos, and museum visits. They exhibit and discuss their own works throughout the year and participate in the school's annual Art Show, which is held in the spring. The physical education program focuses on individual physical development, cooperative play, and enjoyment of athletics while students are instructed in the skills, strategies, and rules of many traditional field and team games. Spanish studies include exploration of the culture, as well as the written and spoken language. Short plays are performed during the year relating to cultural studies. Students learn to play an instrument (e.g. recorder, flute, trumpet, and saxophone) each fall, as well as listen to music from other countries. Students also learn to read music and to sing.
Service to the community, as a practical life concept, takes on an increasingly important role in Upper Elementary. As lessons in “grace and courtesy” continue, so does an emphasis on community service. This focus helps students understand and accept their responsibilities as members of a greater community, as well as to help them develop a clear sense of values. Upper Elementary students continue to take care of their learning environments making regular visits to classrooms to empty recycle bins. Students also learn to manage their time by completing homework and long-term projects such as the Science Fair and book reports. Students use planners to keep track of their daily school work. Finally, while students do not participate in standardized testing for the sake of scores, but are exposed to test taking skills and strategies.
Sensorial experiences are integrated into all areas of the curriculum. For instance, Upper Elementary students were introduced to various examples of African music as part of their study of that continent. Sensorial lessons include nature walks, journaling, descriptive writing, cooking, art appreciation, and music appreciation. Students enoy cooking lunch or baking bread at various times during the year. Field trips are an integral part of the curriculum and allow students to learn through their experiences at Nature’s Classroom, the Boston Symphony, the Chelmsford Performing Arts Center, and Drumlin Farms to name just a few. Sixth years take a three-day trip to New York City in the spring where they visit museums and the zoo, take a Circle Line tour of the city, and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge as an introduction to the cultural richness of an urban setting.
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